Friday, March 5, 2010

In praise of a PR pro

Public relations and its practitioners often get a bad rap. (I still have scars from a quick stint in corporate PR back in the early 1990s.) Sometimes it's self-inflicted--Exhibit A being the follow-up calls to ask "Did you get my press release?"--but just as often, it's the nature of the beast. Particularly in unskilled hands, PR comes across as a "push" industry in a world that favors "pull."

Today, I encountered a PR pro at the top of her game:
  • She wasn't dismissive or irritable when I told her my deadline is next week, even as she admitted that she couldn't get the interview that I was hoping for. I could tell she sensed I was in a bind, and guilt-tripping me wouldn't do her any good. It's amazing how many PR folk get crabby with an on-deadline writer...and equally amazing how much farther empathy, support and treating us like customers would get them and their clients.
  • When I asked her about the availability of hi-res photos, she had them and a media kit in my email box in less than 45 minutes. (And based on her time zone, she probably stayed late at the office to do it.) No effort required on my part, compared to the many resources nowadays that demand written requests in order to acquire a photo. 
  • She didn't ask to see the article, which a surprising number of PR people do. (Most magazines don't permit anything but direct quotes to be reviewed by sources.) This is such an important issue, I'll dig deeper in an upcoming post.*
  • What impressed me most, however, is how she clearly delineated what makes her company different, without lapsing into a sales pitch. The way she described the industry and how her company fits into it was brief and objective; her presentation was confident, smooth and simple, she didn't really need to brag.
I'm still writing the story, so I'm not at liberty of naming the person and her company. I will do so at a future date. In the meantime, I just thought it would be a proper thing to end the week by spreading some good karma, as well as sharing the handiwork of a skilled professional.

*3-18-10 UPDATE: Followup to bullet #3 can be found here: "3.5 reasons I can't show you the story."


  1. It's always a pleasure to work with someone who comes across as professional. I've said it before: never underestimate the power of being nice.

  2. I enjoy reading this post. I learn a lot form you. Thank you for sharing this informative article.

  3. I've worked for PR people and hope to work for more in the future - so far I've not yet encountered the kind of difficulties associated with the field. (Knock on wood.)There definitely is a bad rap there.

    I love it when people are fast, efficient and direct. It saves us all time. I'm curious, though... what kind of "scars" did you get in corporate PR?

  4. @smilingtreewriting, words to live by.

    @WAHD, thanks for the kind comment.

    @Valerie, as with so many jobs in this world, it's somewhat dependent on the subject matter that you're PRing about, and somewhat dependent on your skills. Sounds like you'll do great!

    As far as the scars, I'm exaggerating. I worked for Best Western International's corporate communications department for not quite two years. It was in the first years of rehabbing the brand (no small feat, though it seems like they've done a good job in subsequent years).

    The problem was that the business media didn't give a crap about most of what we'd put out, because it's a membership association and not publicly traded like the other major chains. The only time we got national press was when one of the owners did something stupid--doh!

  5. In Hooterville, they say: You attract more flies with honey than with vinegar. You gotta love that. Just be cool.

  6. @adchick, "Just be cool," yes. More words to live by!

  7. thanks for sharing your positive experience with what is definitely a PR pro.

  8. @Abbie--thanks for dropping in. Always glad when I can accentuate the positive :)